On a cold and overcast October day, thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about drug and alcohol abuse, and to help chart a course where those affected by addiction are treated as individuals in need of help, and not simply warehoused as criminals.
A recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts provides new evidence suggesting that the increased incarceration rates over the last three decades for drug offenses have done little to reduce crime and recidivism.
The study, “Federal Drug Sentencing Laws Bring High Cost, Low Return,” examines the effects of “tough on crime” legislation passed in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Sentencing Commission to give his endorsement for reducing prison sentencing on low-level drug offenses.
Over 50 percent of prisoners currently suffer from substance abuse addiction, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Another 20 percent either have histories of substance abuse, were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time they committed their crimes, or committed their offenses to get money to buy drugs.